No meeting between Sonia, Mamata amid tension between Congress and TMC
The simmering tension between Congress and the Trinamool Congress has led to the deferment of a key meeting of 18 opposition parties ahead of the winter session of Parliament that starts from November 29, said people aware of the development. As a result, TMC supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is in the Capital on a three-day visit, is unlikely to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
This was supposed to be the second such meeting after August 20. Instead, parliamentary leaders of the opposition bloc would meet to discuss floor strategies of the session.
“We have now decided that the floor leaders would meet to chalk out the strategy for the Parliament session. The meeting of the opposition parties on the larger issues related to 2024 elections would be held at a later stage,” said CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, a key organiser of the last meeting.
A key Banerjee aide said on Monday evening that the TMC chief hasn’t yet sought an appointment with Sonia Gandhi. “We haven’t received any invitation so far from her (Sonia Gandhi) office for a meeting of the two leaders.”
Banerjee will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and some other political leaders during her three-day stay in Delhi.
“There is still a possibility for Sonia-Mamata meeting during her trip but as of now, nothing is scheduled,” said a second Banerjee aide.
Gandhi and Banerjee have always maintained close ties even as the latter’s equations with Rahul Gandhi were often frosty. But Trinamool’s national expansion plan, the exodus of key Congress leaders to West Bengal’s ruling party, and its entry into Goa’s political arena have sparked tension between the two opposition powerhouses.
Earlier this month, Banerjee had lashed out at the Congress, accusing the principal opposition party of “compromising” with the Bharatiya Janata Party at an event in Kolkata. “Has the Congress fought on any issue since Prime Minister Narendra Modi has come to power? They only make tall talks when elections come near,” Banerjee had said on November 1.
She also justified Trinamool’s expansion plan saying, “We have to go to other states as well because the Congress can’t be relied upon. The Congress can compromise but we don’t do such compromises.”
The Congress had hit back and party chief whip Randeep Surjewala had said, “In a democracy, any party is free to fight elections. But we hope TMC is not fighting polls in Goa to help the BJP.”